- "This is no "Waltzing Matilda", but if Matilda dances with you, its a dance of death! Her tusks can rip and pnuematically flip, its a breeze for 'Tildy'! Her spinning rear flywheel is 27 kilos in wieght, the matriarch of mayhem, the mistress of mischief, Matilda!"
- — Jonathan Pearce introduces Matilda in Series 5
Matilda (sometimes nicknamed 'Tildy') was one of the original four House Robots. Based on a mutant alien dinosaur, she was equipped with pneumatic flipping tusks and interchangeable chainsaw or flywheel weapons at the rear. Matilda was fashioned from fibreglass matting. She was driven by a 12-volt motor and her tusks were operated by a powerful pneumatic carbon dioxide system. In the earlier days, Matilda was the House Robot most picked on by the contestants, and was often flipped or attacked by robots for fun. After the flywheel was added, she became one of the most dangerous of the House Robots, now capable of throwing a contestant robot out of the arena. Jonathan Pearce often called Matilda the 'Matriarch of Mayhem.'
Matilda's weaponry consisted of pneumatic lifting tusks and an interchangeable rear-mounted weapons bay that could accommodate either a chainsaw running at over 3000rpm or a 27kg (60lb) vertical spinning disc.
During the first series of Robot Wars, Matilda's lifting tusks ran on a relatively simple pneumatic system. For Series 2 minor changes were made to the pneumatics, allowing the tusks to lift faster. This system would remain unchanged for Series 3 along with the majority of the robot. It was however during this series that Matilda used metal horns instead of the rubber ones. These tended to break off easily and were removed once again in favour for the rubber ones.
For Series 4, the tusk mountings were changed. Originally, the tusks had been mounted close to the chassis. This was changed for a higher mounting, giving the tusks a higher area of lift. The change resulted in a much stronger and more reliable system. Improvements to the safety catches of Matilda's armour were also added. Before these improvements were made, the rear section of the shell would often fall off when she was flipped.
For Series 5, the pneumatic system and tusks were completely changed. The original tusks were scrapped in favour of larger, newly designed tusks. The pneumatic system was also changed to a much more complicated system using a mixture of air rams and dump tanks. Instead of the tusks being pulled back by the rams, they were now pushed upward and could lift much heavier weights. It was also during this time that her chainsaw, which had been almost completely destroyed by Razer, was scrapped in favour of a vertical spinning disc. Due to the disc's power and weight, the mounting was made from thick solid steel, which itself weighed a considerable amount. The flywheel was intended to be introduced in Series 4. The disc was later painted pink for Series 6.
Technical Manual Profile and Origin
The following is the description of Matilda's profile and origin from the Robot Wars Technical Manual:
Matilda, who looks like a hybrid cross between a tank and a dinosaur, is a particularly fearsome and cantankerous machine. Solidly built, low and squat, she has a segmented back, from the rear end of which protrudes a vicious, moveable chainsaw. Her horned head, which includes a neck-frill reminiscent of a Stegosaurus, is dominated by a pair of powerful hydraulic tusks or mandibles, which she uses to pierce and mangle her opponents.
Matilda was originally discovered by a team of oceanographers, in a deep cave off the eastern seaboard of the United States. It was initially suggested by the team of scientists and archaeologists assigned to study her that Matilda might be the product of some blasphemous, long-forgotten science, a relic of an unknown but highly advanced prehistoric civilization, of which virtually no trace today remains. Subsequent research seems to have reinforced this theory. Certain inscriptions have been discovered within Matilda's internal circuitry, inscriptions that bear a passing resemblance to Sanskrit (until now considered to be the first written human language) but apparently predating it by an unknown number of centuries. In a leap of inspired intuition, the leader of the research team (who, for security reasons, must remain nameless) suggested that Matilda might actually be a surviving artifact from the legendary continent of Atlantis.
This view was met with derision from the scientific community, until it was pointed out that, according to legend, Atlantis was destroyed in a violent cataclysm of some kind. Some commentators have maintained over the years that the Atlanteans were actually obliterated as a response by irresponsible misuse of their fabulous technology. Could the robot known today as Matilda actually be an example of that technology? Is it possible that the Atlantean civilization was destroyed by marauding robots such as Matilda?
Unlike her partners in crime, Matilda has the appearance of a biomechanical creature, with an internal circuitry based on the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which combine to regulate her aggression levels in combat. However, Matilda's performances during the First and Second Wars would suggest those aggression levels can surge beyond all control.
It is unlikely we will ever know for certain where (or when) Matilda came from, unless, of course we can find a way of communicating with her. (All attempts at this have, so far, resulted only in serious injury to the investigating scientists) One additional fact, however, remains: a tiny piece of the hormonal circuitry within the robot's brain has been recently carbon-dated, revealing her to be in excess of 10,000 years old...
A set of extremely unpleasant hydraulic tusks at the front and a 3000rpm chainsaw at the back makes Matilda practically invulnerable, as was proven at least twice in the First Wars. The first occasion saw her about to dispatch Barry (a robot built by 17 year-olds Amy and Daniel from the Hagley Roman Catholic High School), her fiendish aggression was frustrated only by the lack of time by the end of the round. On the second occasion, Matilda neatly sliced the radio control mast from the back of Scarab during the Grand Final of the First Wars.
Matilda was the second House Robot to be introduced into the series. Her tusks were relatively basic back then, and only had a simple lifting mechanism. Often, she would rely more on her chainsaw to attack robots that strayed into her CPZ (as she did with Mortis). The chainsaw itself was largely ineffective against the majority of the robots, as shown in the semi-finals of Heat D; whilst she was able to cut through the wooden body of SAT'arn easily, her saw stopped instantly upon contact with the metal body of Demolisher.
Rather than using her tusks to flip other robots, Matilda instead used them to ram them. This proved very effective during the Gauntlet, where she was often placed right at the end of the run. One of the most notable instances involved her pushing back Prince of Darkness just as it had crossed the line, taking it back several metres. Luckily for the contestant robot, she got stuck, allowing it to complete its run.
Matilda holds the dubious honour of being the first House Robot to be defeated in the arena (not including Shunt's defeats in the Sumo trial). During the British Bulldog trial, Matilda attacked an immobilised Recyclopse, and was pushed onto its tongue. She was promptly flipped over, the first time a house robot had ever been overturned. Matilda also suffered an internal breakdown during the Featherweight Gauntlet whilst attacking Krayzee Tokyo, whereby she started billowing purple smoke.
Matilda's pneumatic system was reworked slightly to make the tusks lift faster. She could now overturn robots more easily but ramming was still a favourite tactic. It was this series that Matilda used her spark shooter, however, it was rarely seen. As the quality of other robots' armour was on the up, Matilda's chainsaw was starting to lose its effectiveness.
However, Matilda once again had her fair share of being set on by competitors. In the King of the Castle trial, Spin Doctor used its sit-and-spin technique to break off one of her tusks. Also, during the heat final of Heat H, Cassius exploited Matilda's ground clearance and flipped her over, very similar to what happened to her in the British Bulldog trial in Series 1.
- "Oh, something's come off! It's the cuddly toy Matilda!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Matilda is pushed back to her end
She also fell into the pit during Roadblock's Pinball run. To add the icing on the cake, Matilda was unable to gain an advantage on Kill Dozer because of the latter's scoop digging into the floor. This prompted a woman in the audience to turn around her Matilda sign to reveal a sign rooting for Kill Dozer.
Matilda had no major upgrades for Series 3 except that her rubber horns were replaced with metal ones. This proved to be an undoing as they frequently shattered. Matilda was flipped several times during the series, this time actually disconnecting her rear armour, leaving her rear workings exposed. Her shell would come off a few times against robots such as Chaos 2, Aggrobot, Facet, Invertabrat and Gravedigger.
Matilda's chainsaw was not making as much impact on robots as it had in Series 1. As many a robot's armour was getting stronger, her chainsaw was becoming her secondary weapon in favour of the unchanged tusks. These tusks helped to ruin Six Pac's pinball hopes as she flipped the 75 point target out of the arena.
Matilda was still a favourite to pick on by the competitor robots because of her not very potent arsenal. After flipping Hypno-Disc to win Series 3, Chaos 2 chose Matilda as its second victim, throwing the house robot onto her left side in the CPZ, where Shunt was waiting, who was next to be attacked.
Matilda's chainsaw barely damaged armour during this series, as chainsaws were designed for cutting wood, not metal, which made up the majority of robots at the time. Her tusks were given a makeover however. The mountings for her tusks, originally close to her chassis, were moved up, therefore making the tusks lift higher. Safety catches were also added, to keep her rear shell on even if she was flipped.
It was during one of the Christmas specials held after the series, however, where perhaps Matilda's most infamous misfortune occured. In the Southern Annihilator final, after Matilda flipped Onslaught onto its side where it couldn't self right, Razer crushed Matilda's rear armour, not only filling it with holes, but also rendering the chainsaw inoperable. She was pushed onto the flame pit, with the house robots also attacking Matilda. After Dead Metal pushed Onslaught into the pit, Razer went after Sir Killalot, leaving Matilda immobilised. The damage was so severe that a funeral was held at the end of the episode.
- "Matilda, created at the dawn of Robot Wars. R.I.P. Rust in peace. D.I.A. Destroyed in action. D.Y.W.B? Do you wanna bet!?"
- — Jonathan Pearce provides Matilda's last rites whilst funeral music plays. It comes to an abrupt stop at his last statement
However, Matilda reappeared active, albeit heavily bandaged, at the end of the episode. According to a forum, the producers were planning on rebuilding Matilda, so they let Razer destroy her.
- "Oh yes, the matriach of mayhem, the sister of slice-and-dice, the grandmother of grinding metal, will be back!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Matilda reappears, heavily bandaged
Matilda had been completely overhauled to keep it competitive in the new 100kg weight limit - her chainsaw would not have been very useful because of its design and the strength of competitors' armour. Her tusks were new and larger, and the pneumatic system was gone altogether - instead, a complex system of air rams and dumps were fitted. This new system enabled the tusks to lift far heavier weights than before.
Her rear chainsaw "tail" was abandoned in favour of a huge 27kg vertical flywheel, now capable of destroying robots. Because the disc was so heavy and powerful, the mounting was solid steel, itself fairly hefty in weight. She could now flip robots out of the arena with this weapon, however it took time for this to happen.
In the meantime, Matilda single-handedly immobilised Wheely Big Cheese, Bigger Brother and Chaos 2 with her new weaponry. This led to her being dubbed as "The Matriarch of Mayhem" as Matilda was the only female house robot. Her arsenal was so deadly, that no UK robot flipped her with the flywheel, and Tricerabot was the only robot to flip her over in this guise. However, she received a red card in a Mayhem match between The Steel Avenger, Tornado and King B Powerworks
Matilda made her mark with the flywheel, like in Extreme 1. After Widow's Revenge was immobilised by Razer, Matilda reversed into the destroyed machine, ripping it apart. She also caused major damage to Rohog earlier in the series, and damaged Firestorm's flipper in the same heat.
There was however a controversial incident involving Matilda. During Terrorhurtz's battle with Ming 3 in Heat L, she immobilised the latter with her flywheel. The match went to the judges, who chose Terrorhurtz. Team Ming were given an apology, while Matilda was red-carded and given "a good smack up the backside" according to Jonathan Pearce.
Matilda had no major improvements apart from the colour of the flywheel. It was now pink instead of grey, although the pink flywheel was occasionally seen in Series 5. It seemed even more powerful than before, as during Panic Attack's battle with Terrorhurtz in Heat I, Panic Attack was cornered by Matilda in the CPZ. She turned around and Panic Attack's top lid flew out of the arena and into a camera.
During the Heat A final, she reversed into Raging Reality, tearing off a top panel and carving a huge gash into Raging Reality's side. This attack immobilised the silver robot, ending its run in Series 6.
Once again, Matilda proved her power by actually throwing robots Out of the Arena instead of armour panels. This feat happened with Sir Chromalot and Vader. Incidentally, both happened during the Challenge Belt.
Another famous moment that series was in the Annihilator. At the end of Round 4, with Major Tom a sitting duck, Matilda reversed into it, causing major damage to the fibreglass shell. Matilda attacked several times more, with Major Tom ending up dilapidated.
Matilda was unchanged from Series 6, although she kept flipping robots out of the arena with her flywheel, with Ceros being a victim. As Refbot counted out Ceros, she reversed into the rhinoceros-based machine, sending it out of the arena, giving St Agro the eighth place in the semi-finals.
Matilda has made appearances in all the other Robot Wars international series. Despite Matilda's flywheel being interchangeable with her chainsaw, the chainsaw was only ever seen a few more times in the second season of the US series Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors as well as in Nickelodeon Robot Wars. However, the chainsaw was used primarily for decoration and was never actually put into use.
Regardless, Matilda's flywheel proved to be quite devastating, managing to completely destroy many robots such as the Dutch competitors Impact and Shapeshifter and the German competitor Thorgrim, as well as sending American competitor Medusa Oblongata and S.O.Xbot, part of the Dutch clusterbot √3, flying out of the arena. In the Dutch Series 1 Grand Final, a combination of Slicer's drum and Matilda's flywheel launched Lizzard 3ft into the air.
Matilda also fought in the House Robot Rebellion in the first season of Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors, but was easily knocked onto her side by Tricerabot, making Tricerabot the only robot to ever flip Matilda while she was equipped with her flywheel.
Oddly, Matilda played only a minor role in Nickelodeon Robot Wars. Out of the twenty-four battles held during the series, she only appeared in four of them.
Appearances in Merchandise
- Matilda/Robot Wars: Metal Mayhem
- Matilda/Robot Wars: Arenas of Destruction
- Matilda/Robot Wars: Advanced Destruction
- Matilda/Robot Wars: Extreme Destruction (GBA)
- Matilda/Robot Wars: Extreme Destruction (PC/Xbox)
- According to the Robot Wars Fun Fax, The early design that became Matilda, was known as Evildoer. This machine had a similar ovoid shape and a chainsaw on the rear like Matilda, but had saws and spikes all over its body.
- The thumbprints on Matilda's headpiece were fashioned by Crew member James Davis.
- Early footage of Matilda being tested would suggest that she was originally intended to be painted black, before later being changed to purple.
- Matilda was fitted with spark projectiles on her tusks for some of the events in Series 2. They were removed just before Series 3 started.
- Matilda's horns were made of hard rubber; the metal versions tended to shatter or break off too easily.
- Matilda was the oldest house robot, having had construction started first amongst the four original House Robots.
- A version of Matilda made an appearance at the 2011 UK Heavyweight Championships at the O2 arena. Built by Alan Gribble, this version of Matilda served as the house robot in the Featherweight championship and continues to act as house robot for all Roaming Robots tournaments.
- Matilda was the only robot to be represented by all four types of Robot Wars toys.
- Matilda is one of seven robots to smash the arena wall, and one of four to destroy it with a flywheel. It was also the only House Robot to demolish the wall.
- Matilda is an example of the Ship of Theseus paradox.